Cunard Settles In

Cruise line at home in new So. Cal. site

By: Ana Figueroa

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. Anyone wondering how Cunard Line’s move to Princess headquarters in Santa Clarita, Calif., has gone, take note. TravelAge West dropped by the expansive Princess campus recently, for a behind-the-scenes tour. We’re happy to report that the 30 or so Cunard employees who made the move from the line’s former headquarters in Miami four months ago have settled in seamlessly. Cunard execs Lee Robinson, David Gevanthor and Nina Kass give the move an enthusiastic “thumbs up.”

The relocation of the venerable Cunard came as part of parent Carnival Corp.’s restructuring of P&O Princess International operations. Cunard is operating out of Santa Clarita with its own dedicated reservations, customer service, sales, marketing and PR staff. (Cunard and Princess are sharing fleet operations and back office facilities.)

Plans call for Cunard to transition to the renowned Princess POLAR reservations system by 2006. Princess prides itself on having the best reservations, customer service and loyalty programs in the business. This being wave season, TravelAge West couldn’t resist the chance to see the Princess technology in action. The Reservation Call Center was abuzz, with more than 320 agents fielding calls from travel agents. A large digital readout on a wall kept track of incoming calls, which at times reach 1,000 per hour.

On the Cunard side, the reservations staff, numbering about 50, certainly has a lot to be enthusiastic about. The Queen Mary 2 has just celebrated her first anniversary, and remains the unrivaled “grand dame” of the seas.

Several Cunard staffers recently had the pleasure of lunching on the line’s other renowned vessel, the Queen Elizabeth 2, when she called in Los Angeles as part of her 2005 World Cruise. The visit spawned talk of the glory days of cruising, an integral part of the Cunard corporate culture. It seems that passengers still book entire penthouses just to hold their luggage. And gentlemen still travel with 25 different waistcoats. Cunard has brought a bit of the Golden Age of Travel to the sleek, modern Princess facilities. Looks like a combination destined for smooth sailing.